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Reading across America

Today is Read Across America Day! It celebrates the Doctor's birthday (Dr. Seuss, that is) and the joy he created with his wonderful imagination.

Because of Theodor Geisel, we have unforgettable characters like the mischief-making Cat in the Hat, an environmentally concerned guy named the Lorax, the 20th century Scrooge named the Grinch, and an exceedingly kind elephant named Horton who saved the Whos from utter obliteration. (These and other Seuss creations as well as the doctor himself can be explored on a highly interactive website.)

Libraries and the achievement gap

Is the growing gap in children's achievement primarily fueled by economics? What other factors may have a role in it — and how can the apparent trend be reversed?

A recent piece in The New York Times reports studies that indicate a widening fissure in educational achievement between rich and poor. But it also suggests other factors may be at play.

We're all hyphenated Americans

We're all hyphenated Americans really. It's the way we identify our backgrounds and that's fine. If, however, identification by self or others becomes a way to maintain separation, well, that's not fine.

I was reminded recently that books are important as both "mirrors" and "windows" as I introduced books to a group of teenaged parents. They were learning about their children's development and the role of literature and language in it.

And the winner is ... children!

It's always heartening to be with other booklovers — especially those who recognize that the younger we start sharing the power and pleasure of language and story with children the more likely they'll grow into lifelong learners.

It was exciting to attend what has become known as the Youth Media Awards announcements at the midwinter conference of the American Library Association.

Teacher appreciation a few months early

Teacher Appreciation Week is typically the first week of May. But January can be long, cold, and drab with mid-year assessments and paperwork taking up too much time. This seems like a good opportunity to remind all teachers just how important and wonderful you are! Every day you stand before very special people, and every day you have the power to ignite a spark that will last a lifetime.

Super Ambassadors for young people and reading!

What do a red cape, a magic wand and a light sword represent? Each seems to be a sign of magic, heroics, something more than mere human, right?

What happens when the writers who hold these objects come together in one room? They become the superheroes and spokespeople to let the world know about the importance of reading.

These are the Super National Ambassadors for Young People's Literature! Together, their power can change the world! And that's just what current and former Ambassadors have set out to do.

A new year and a new National Ambassador

A new year has started and with it a new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Our new Ambassador continues a short but highly distinguished group of spokespeople for the importance of literature in the lives of children and young adults.

Walter Dean Myers will assume his newest role next week at a ceremony at the Library of Congress.

A book on every bed this holiday

We started a new tradition in our family last year. We'll do it again this year, and I hope you'll consider adding this tradition to your family holiday too! It's a simple one: put a book on every bed.

Giving thanks

She's best known for a ditty that young children sing but she was an activist who made sure that there was a national day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale lived in the 19th century, wrote the poem, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and other works for adults. She also wanted to make Thanksgiving a consistent celebration in all states.

Inspiration for lifetime learning

This September continues to be an interesting month. It started with a solemn occasion which included new memorials and remembrances for those lost on 9/11. But additionally, there are less serious celebrations and goings-on during the month.

One of my favorites is the National Book Festival sponsored by the Library of Congress. It will be held on the National Mall on September 24 and the 25th — a two-day event this year.

Pages

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." — Garrison Keillor